How to Know Brazil | 11 Best Brazilian Movies

Are you curious about the artistic and varied cinematic landscape of Brazil? Brazilian cinema has something for every taste, from drama to humor, action to romance. But there are so many movies that it can take time to figure out where to begin. 

This article presents a selection of the best Brazilian films that have won critical praise and widespread audience interest. Are you a die-hard City of God fan? Or just in the mood for a change of pace? We’ve got you covered. 

But our help goes beyond just giving you a list of movies. We also answer some of the most common questions about Brazilian movies. With our list, you can sit back with some popcorn and dive deep into the culture of Brazilian film without leaving your house!

best Brazilian movies

Does Brazil have a film industry?

Brazil’s well-established and thriving film industry continues producing innovative and thought-provoking movies that reflect the country’s culture, history, and social issues. The Brazilian film industry has a rich history and diverse genres and styles. Hence it gained recognition both in Brazil and internationally. The industry has produced many acclaimed filmmakers, actors, and movies contributing to the country’s cultural heritage.

Brazilian cinema has a unique voice and perspective, reflecting the country’s complex social and historical context. Many Brazilian movies explore poverty, inequality, violence, and corruption while highlighting the country’s vibrant culture, social diversity, and natural beauty.

A Long and Illustrious History​

The Brazilian film industry has a long and illustrious history, and it continues to this day. There’s a Brazilian film out there for every type of moviegoer. Whether you prefer drama, comedy, action, or romance, you will love the quality of Brazil’s film industry.

Beginning in the early 20th century, Brazil’s film industry has a rich and storied history. Since the premiere of “The Stranglers” in 1925, the country’s cinematic landscape has blossomed into one of the most dynamic and innovative in the world.

Films made in Brazil have a distinct style that reflects the country’s multifaceted social and historical background. Despite focusing on issues like poverty, injustice, crime, and corruption, many films from Brazil also celebrate the country’s rich culture, diverse society, and stunning landscapes. These films are part of Brazil’s legacy and have influenced the country’s national character till nowadays. 

best Brazilian movies

Where can you stream Brazilian movies?

There are several places online where you may see Brazilian films if you’re curious about the country’s film industry. You may also find some fantastic old and new Brazilian movies, television episodes, and documentaries on Amazon Prime Video.

Certain Brazilian films are also available on other digital distribution services. You can easily find them on Apple TV+Google Play, and YouTube

If you want a copy of the movie that isn’t available through streaming services, this can be a decent choice. 

How to watch Brazilian movies on Netflix?

If you’re a Netflix user, you’re also in for a treat.  

Netflix offers a wide variety of Brazilian movies. From critically acclaimed titles like “City of God,” “Bacurau,” and “The Edge of Democracy” to lesser-known independent films and documentaries.

You can simply search for “Brazilian movies” in the search bar or use one of the specific Netflix codes for Brazil.

Get ready to dive into the wide variety of Brazilian cinema. Grab some popcorn and settle down for a journey into Brazilian cinema!

Top 11 Must-Watch Brazilian Movies: From “City of God” to “Bacurau”

Cidade de Deus, which translates to City of God, is super famous among the best of all time. The movie, since in 2002, has been universally praised as a groundbreaking achievement in cinema. In Rio de Janeiro‘s dangerous and poor favelas, the film follows a group of young men striving to make it in a society dominated by gang violence and drug trafficking.

As one of the best Brazilian movies, City of God stands apart from other films because of its gritty, realistic portrayal of life in the favelas. The film’s directors, Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund cast largely non-professional actors for their authenticity and realism. The film has achieved cult status in Brazil thanks to its innovative camerawork, realistic performances, and compelling story.

One of City of God’s most striking aspects is its cinematography. The film’s frenetic pace and style effectively immerse viewers in the deadly and chaotic setting of the favelas. This film’s camerawork is dynamic and organic, with frequent zoom in and out and rapid scene transitions.

All-in-all, City of God is still a classic of international cinema and a national treasure in Brazil. The picture touched fans and critics alike and was critical in Brazil’s rise to prominence in the global film industry. Said, this cinematic masterpiece accurately portrays the harsh reality of life in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas.

You can stream City of God on Amazon Prime Video

What should you watch after the movie “City of God”?

Many people know the cinematic masterpiece, raw performances, and emotional story of City of God

But what should you check after that? 

Have a look at Tropa de Elite (also known as Elite Squad in English). Like the City of God, Tropa de Elite shows how life is in the favelas in a harsh, realistic way. The movie has a lot of intense action scenes and interesting, well-developed characters. It has been praised by critics for how honestly it shows how hard life is in the favelas. Additionally, it highlights how a corrupt system keeps it that way.

Tropa de Elite is the exciting follow-up to City of God that won’t let you rest. For more information and the trailer, go to #4.

2. O Auto de Compadecida – Dog’s Will (8.5/10)

O Auto de Compadecida (or Dog’s Will), is a 2000 Brazilian comedy movie by Guel Arraes. The movie is based on a play of the same name by Ariano Suassuna and tells the story of two friends, João Grilo and Chicó, who live in a small town in the Brazilian countryside.

The film is well-known for its humorous and irreverent comments on Brazilian culture and society. Life in the Brazilian countryside appears to be ludicrous, with severe social inequality and corruption. The plot follows the exploits of Joo Grilo and Chicó as they run into difficulty regularly while attempting to make a life.

O Car de Compadecida features a cast of eccentric and likable individuals, each with strengths and weaknesses. Chicó is a stupid and bumbling sidekick who constantly manages to botch things up. In contrast, Joo Grilo is a clever, street-smart hustler who always has a surprise up his sleeve. Actors like Matheus Nachtergaele, Selton Mello, and Virginia Cavendish bring these roles to life in the film.

The film’s quick wit and sharp dialogue have made it a classic in Brazil. You’ll be laughing out loud throughout O Car de Compadecida. Still, it’ll also make you think about some serious social concerns. The movie never takes itself too seriously, and the humor blends slapstick, sarcasm, and satire. As one of the best Brazilian movies, it is an excellent choice. As you want to see a film that will make you laugh and think critically about societal concerns.

You can stream O Car de Compadecida on Amazon Prime Video.

3. Edificio Master (7.9/10)

Edificio Master is a 2002 documentary film by Eduardo Coutinho. It provides a thought-provoking glimpse into the lives of people who reside in a high-rise apartment building in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The movie is shot entirely within the building. And it showcases interviews with various residents, including a retired school teacher, a transvestite prostitute, and several other individuals from different walks of life.

What sets Edificio Master apart from other documentaries is its focus on the human stories behind the building’s facade. The movie presents a poignant and unflinching portrayal of the residents’ struggles, hopes, and aspirations, and highlights the social and economic issues that impact their lives, such as poverty, crime, and inequality. Through the residents’ stories, the movie gives viewers an intimate and insightful look into the diverse realities of life in Brazil.

Edificio Master has received critical acclaim in Brazil and internationally and has won numerous awards and accolades. The movie’s innovative approach to documentary filmmaking, combined with its powerful storytelling and humanistic themes, make it a must-watch for fans of Brazilian cinema and those interested in exploring the diverse and complex realities of life in Brazil.

You can order Edificio Master on Amazon.


4. Tropa de Elite – Elite Squad (8.0/10)


Tropa de Elite (or Elite Squad) is one of the best Brazillian movies by José Padilha from 2007. It is centered on Captain Nascimento, a member of the BOPE (Special Police Operations Battalion) tasked with fighting drug trafficking and organized crime in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas.

The brutal and realistic depiction of police work and violence in the favelas in Tropa de Elite sets it apart from other films. The documentary-style realism with which the film was shot transports spectators into the dangerous and chaotic world of drug trafficking and police corruption. Tropa de Elite’s groundbreaking camerawork, gritty performances, and powerful narrative have made it a cult favorite in Brazil.

The novel method of the narrative in Tropa de Elite is one of the film’s most remarkable features. The film is narrated in flashbacks by the film’s protagonist, Captain Nascimento. This method provides insight into the characters’ inner workings and the film’s events from many vantage points.

Ultimately, Tropa de Elite is a cinematic masterwork! It provides a moving and genuine depiction of life in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas. Fans and reviewers alike have remembered this groundbreaking Brazilian film for its creative photography, gritty acting, and powerful tale.

You can stream Tropa de Elite on Amazon Prime Video.

5. Central do Brasil – Central Station (8.0/10)

Central do Brasil, also known as “Central Station,” is a beautiful movie about Dora. She a retired school teacher who writes letters for illiterate people at Rio de Janeiro’s central station. The movie’s story begins when one of her clients is killed in a hit-and-run accident. Dora takes his young son, Josué, on a journey to find the boy’s father in Brazil’s rural northeast.

The movie is a poignant and emotional drama exploring family, identity, and social inequality themes. It is a touching story of a woman who, despite her struggles, finds herself on a journey that transforms her life and the life of a young boy. Throughout the movie, we see the characters develop and grow unexpectedly as they face internal and external obstacles that challenge their beliefs and values.

The movie’s powerful storyline is complemented by solid performances from its cast, particularly Fernanda Montenegro, who plays Dora. Her portrayal of a woman who is lonely, bitter, and disillusioned. But ultimately finds hope and redemption in the love of a child is both moving and poignant. The movie’s cinematography is stunning, with breathtaking shots of Brazil’s natural beauty and the bustling streets of Rio de Janeiro.

You can stream Central do Brasil on Mubi

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6. Estomago: A Gastronomic Story (7.7/10)

Estomago: A Gastronomic Story follows Raimundo Nonato. He is a hapless cook with no formal education who decides to leave the countryside for the big city. The local crime lord is so impressed with Nonato’s cooking that he hires him to cook for his gang.

The unconventional mashup of genres in Estomago makes it one of the best Brazilian movies. It deftly combines aspects of crime drama, romantic comedy, and cuisine film to tell an engaging and amusing story. The movie’s depiction of the restaurant industry is spot-on and entertaining; it also provides an interesting new angle on the cultural significance of food in Brazil.

Immensely enjoyable and insightful into Brazilian culture and gastronomy, Estomago is a cinematic gem. Its original genre mixing, exciting plot, and stellar acting have made it a masterpiece of Brazilian cinema that has won the hearts of moviegoers worldwide. Check out Estomago if you want a film that will make you laugh, make you hungry, and teach you more about Brazilian culture.

You can stream Estomago: A Gastronomic Story on Netflix.

7. Bicho de Sete Cabeças – Brainstorm (7.9/10)

Lais Bodanzky is the director of Bicho de Sete Cabeças, which was released in 2001. The film tells the story of three ladies of diverse ages and social backgrounds who meet one another in a therapy group and develop a strong friendship throughout the film. It delves into topics such as individuality, family dynamics, and the state of one’s mental health to present an insightful and complex portrait of the lives of Brazilian women.

Bicho de Sete Cabeças goes deep into the depths of the human experience. It investigates the emotional and psychological obstacles that its characters have to overcome. It is regarded as a revered classic of Brazilian cinema due to the film’s powerful performances, compelling storytelling, and accurate portrayal of life in Brazil.

Overall, Bicho de Sete Cabeças is a movie that will move your heart and leave you with an impression that will stay with you for a long time. You are going to laugh, you are going to cry, and you are going to think about the nuances of the human experience after watching this film because it is so compelling and emotionally packed. 

This masterpiece’s genuine portrayal of Brazilian life and culture and its universally applicable themes of friendship, family, and mental health distinguishes it as an exceptional and important addition to the canon of cinematic works worldwide.

You can buy Bicho de Sete Cabeças from Amazon.

8. Carandiru (7.6/10)

Carandiru, released in 2003, provides a gritty and violent look into the Carandiru Prison, the largest prison in South America. The movie, helmed by Héctor Babenco and adapted from Dr. Drauzio Varella’s novel Estaço Carandiru, presents the story of a doctor who goes undercover in jail to treat the convicts there.

The visceral and emotional experiences of inmates are captured in Carandiru in an authentic and profound way, setting it different from other films. Overcrowding, violence, and a lack of resources are all depicted in the film as unpleasant realities of prison life. It also shows how people may overcome adversity by banding together and finding common ground.

Luiz Carlos Vasconcelos performs remarkably as the caring doctor who develops friendships with the inmates. The rest of the cast is just as impressive. His portrayal of life behind bars is sophisticated and moving.

In Carandiru, the camerawork pulls you in with beautiful pictures of the tumultuous jail life. The audience can feel the tension and emotion of the characters because of the skilled camerawork.

As one of the best Brazillian movies, Carandiru is an outstanding film that brilliantly and accurately depicts life in one of South America’s largest jails. Its unfiltered performances, rich emotions, and genuine depiction of Brazilian life and culture set it apart as a significant cinematic achievement.

You can stream Carandiru on Apple TV.

9. The Year My Parents Went on Vacation (7.3/10)

The Brazilian movie The Year My Parents Went on Vacation released in 2006. The plot concerns a young boy named Mauro, whose parents leave him with his grandfather in So Paulo’s Bom Retiro neighborhood during the World Cup in 1970.

The movie is a beautifully made coming-of-age story looking at family, identity, and community themes. It shows how people in So Paulo lived during a time of political and social change in a moving and nuanced way. Throughout the movie, we see Mauro change and grow in ways we didn’t expect. As he learns to deal with his new environment and makes friends with the many different people who live in his grandfather’s neighborhood.

The Year My Parents Went on Vacation is a beloved and enduring classic of Brazilian cinema because of its great acting and interesting plot. The talented actors in the cast include Michel Joelsas, who plays Mauro in a powerful and nuanced way, and Germano Haiut, who plays the wise and caring grandfather. The movie’s cinematography is also excellent, with beautiful shots of So Paulo and the bright colors of the World Cup.

You can stream The Year My Parents Went on Vacation on Mubi.

10. Bacurau (7.7/10)

Directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles, Bacurau premiered in 2019. The movie is a masterwork that defies categorization by seamlessly blending Western, horror, and political thriller themes. It takes place in the not-too-distant future. Its protagonists are the citizens of a sleepy little village named Bacurau.

The unconventional storyline in Bacurau makes it stand out from mainstream movies in the industry. You will be on the edge of your seats because of the movie’s fascinating and surprising plot, made possible by the mashup of genres. The movie’s criticism of contemporary Brazilian society is both topical and insightful, with its socioeconomic inequity, corruption, and resistance themes.

Taking a fresh and fascinating look at modern Brazil, Bacurau is undeniably a cinematic gem. Its original genre mixing, exciting plot, and stellar acting have made it a masterpiece of Brazilian cinema that has won the hearts of moviegoers worldwide. Watching Bacurau might be a good idea if you want to see a film that would make you think critically about the world as it is now.

You can stream Bacurau on Amazon Prime Video.

11. Deus e o diabo na terra do sol – Black God, White Devil (7.7/10)

Deus e o diabo na terra do sol is another cinematic masterpiece that has become essential to Brazilian cinema history. Its innovative cinematography, powerful performances, and engaging storyline have made it a beloved classic of Brazilian cinema that continues to captivate and inspire audiences worldwide.

Manuel and Rosa, a young peasant couple, are the protagonists of Black God, White Satan, a film set in the bleak northeastern area of Brazil. After a violent argument with their boss, Manuel becomes a wanted man, and he and Rosa are forced to escape. They meet a wide variety of people along the road, each with their take on the political and social climate of the period.

In sum, Black God, White Devil is an intense, moving film that provides an original and intriguing take on Brazil’s culture and society. Its groundbreaking style of storytelling, excellent acting, and compelling plot have made it a classic Brazilian film that has inspired generations of moviegoers.

You can buy Deus e o diabo na terra do sol on Amazon.

best Brazilian movies

Embrace the complexity and diversity of Brazilian cinema!

Hopefully, this rundown of the 11 best movies from Brazil has given you a glimpse into the country’s rich history and vibrant culture. From the gritty and raw depiction of life in the favelas in “Tropa de Elite” to the emotional and devastating drama in “Central Station,” each film on this list offers a fascinating new perspective on Brazil’s diverse society and culture.

These films showcase the creativity and talent of Brazilian filmmakers, who have successfully depicted the country’s complex history, social issues, and cultural diversity. Unique in their cinematography, powerful performances, and engaging in their stories; these films are essential for anybody interested in the complexities of Brazilian life and culture.

Whether you’re more of a drama, comedy, or horror fan, you’ll find a Brazilian film here. Trust us, you can count on being entertained and learning about the political and cultural forces driving Brazil today, thanks to the breadth of styles and topics covered in these films!

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